Ofsted figures show improvement in FE performance

Stephen Exley

Colleges and FE providers have recorded a significant improvement in their performance in Ofsted inspections, new statistics reveal.

According to figures published today by the inspectorate, 70 per cent of providers inspected between September 2013 and June 2014 which were previously rated in the “requires improvement” or “satisfactory” category recorded an improvement in their overall grade.

This marks a significant increase on the 49 per cent improvement rate recorded in the previous year’s figures, covering September 2012 to August 2013.

Taking into account all FE providers’ most recent inspections, the proportion rated good or outstanding now stands at 81 per cent, up from 72 per cent in August 2013.

The news was welcomed by Andy Gannon, director of policy, PR and research at the 157 Group of colleges. “I think it’s testament to the real focus colleges have put on the quality of teaching and learning,” he said.

“A lot of principals, both at 157 Group colleges and elsewhere, have been working very hard to they are delivering the highest quality with learners and employers in mind.”

However, the report expresses some concern about the performance of the 28 general FE colleges inspected between April and June this year. None of the institutions was rated outstanding, with 54 per cent judged to be good, down from 59 per cent in the first half of the academic year. One was rated inadequate.

This comes despite a lower proportion of the most recent inspections being triggered by concerns raised by Ofsted’s risk assessment process, down to 17 per cent from 26 per cent in the same period last year. This has “largely been caused by the need to inspect requires improvement and satisfactory providers in the set time frame”, according to the report.

The figures were published the day before Ofsted’s annual learning and skills lecture, which is due to be delivered tomorrow morning.

Lorna Fitzjohn, the watchdog’s director for further education and skills, is expected to argue that the government’s focus on reducing the number of young people not in education, employment or training (Neet) is “too narrow and does not capture the full extent to which young people are falling through the cracks”.

“Unless quick and decisive action is taken to improve the quality of further education then there is a very real risk that initiatives to help young people will, for many, just end up delaying their fall into the Neet category,” she will say.

Related stories

Neets drop to lowest level in England since 2005 – May 2014

Colleges urge government to rethink funding cuts for 18-year-olds – Dec 2013

Schools 'failing' to provide good quality careers advice, Ofsted warns - Sep 2013

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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